For adventure seekers looking for bigger challenges, there’s something to be said about superlative conquests. Whether you’re biking all 251 towns and cities in Vermont or summiting every 14er in Colorado, there’s something immensely gratifying about crossing things off and earning accolades. If you’re looking for a summer activity that ticks “outdoor fun” from your summer bucket list, lake bagging might be just what you’re searching for. Lake bagging follows in the tradition of peak bagging, where climbers challenge themselves to summit a specific number of mountains, reports National Geographic. But while peak baggers might be trying to ascend the highest points on seven continents, lake bagging focuses on swimming in as many local ponds and lakes as possible.
Lake bagging can be a local competition or a personal challenge and the “rules” vary greatly by group. For one upstate New York group, that means swimming at least a mile in 47 Adirondack lakes without a wetsuit. If you’re a part of Britain’s University of Bristol Expeditions Society, you get one point for submerging fully, double for “full nakedness” and double again if you break ice. One Oregon lake bagging group gave points for lake quantity and quality, with extra points for trekking and orienteering. Jessica Kieras who writes the Oregon Lake Bagging blog says the requirements for a lake bag are low to her, “…one needs only to find their way to the lake, get in it and swim around for a while.”
Before you grab your swimsuit, current lake baggers suggest some safety steps. Swimming with a swim buoy or a kayaker can be important, especially in lakes with motorboat traffic. Kieras also told National Geographic to watch out for any algae looking like “spilled paint” because it could be a sign of a harmful algae bloom that can cause debilitating illnesses or even death.
Whether you want to cross the most lakes off your list or just cannonball into a cold mountain lake, take a gander at the best lakes in America for summer adventures.